The Police were one of the iconic bands of the 1970s and 80s. Songs like “Roxanne,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” and “Every Breath You Take” still resonate today. But guitarist Andy Summers tells The Cycle that being a rock star isn’t all “shine.”
In his documentary “Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police,” Summers shows a band that grew apart as they gained fame. Toure points out that even as the trio recorded their last album – “Synchronicity” – they were the opposite of synchronized, recording in separate rooms and fighting over the mixes. They are hardly the first band to make good music while their personal relationships were discordant. Summers explains how the tensions fueled the band’s creativity.
“You need that confrontation and spark,” said Summers, “that’s what makes all great bands, I think. It provides a great chemistry. It’s more volatile and more sparky and I think that connects with an audience, and hopefully you’re gonna get it into the music as well… It’s like the Beatles said, ‘the only way you’ll really understand this is to be in the band itself.’ And in our case there are only three people who know what that experience is.”
And while friction and ego ultimately broke up the Police, Summers still thinks that internal competition is a necessary evil. Imagine, he tells the hosts, “if you go the other way. You have three really mellow guys who get on really well…” he trails off into a yawn. Toure draws the parallel that this “yawn” group sounds a little bit like the Beatles – at least before Yoko came along.
In Summers’ view, frontman Sting played the Yoko role. And while he didn’t want to “demonize Sting,” he does think that the documentary’s portrayal of the band is an honest account of how things happened.
“You’ve gotta present an honest story that shows warts and all because I think that’s what’s really compelling for people, and of course it’s a story that’s full of all the troubles that go with it. Like probably for any band, or any great success story, doesn’t matter who it is…there’s gonna be a shadow side that, particularly in today’s world, people are really interested in. It’s not all just shine, ya know?”
The documentary – “shine” and all – premieres Friday at the DOCNYC documentary film festival in New York City.